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Wargods of Metal
Released: 1999, Metal Blade
With the resurgence of power metal over the past year or so, I've been very interested (almost ravenous, actually...) in finding out about the new bands involved in the genre. I first saw Sacred Steel's name in a mailorder catalog, in which they were described as "Old school power/speed metal from Germany." Given the generally higher quality of European metal, that description certainly caught my attention and it wasn't long after that I placed an order for "Wargods of Metal".
Only a few days prior to receiving my order, I read on a metal message board (Hmmm... I wonder which one?) that Sacred Steel's vocalist was a little on the irritating side. Needless to say, I began to worry that I'd thrown my money out the window, since it is possible for a bad singer to ruin an otherwise good album. The next couple of days were just a little tense, to say the least.
Fortunately, luck (and possibly eccentricity) was on my side, because I thought Gerrit P. Mutz's vocals were very fitting of Sacred Steel's "retro-thrash" style of metal. Sure, the guy is no Ripper Owens, but really... Who is? To me, he kind of sounds like Geoff Tate on the first couple of Queensryche recordings (Though I don't think he's quite ready to cover "Eyes of a Stranger" just yet.).
Musically, I'd have to describe Sacred Steel as a cross between Hammerfall and Venom. Lots of fast, grinding guitars and double-bass drumming combined with the sense of melody most European bands are known for. Good examples of this are "Iron Legions", "By Steel We Rule", the frantic title track, and their excellent cover of the Omen classic "Battle Cry". My only complaint would be the cheesy spoken intros "Blessed By the Gods" and "Declaration of War". If a band is going to put spoken intros on an album, then at least get someone with a menacing voice.
So... Are Sacred Steel breaking any new ground? No. Are they amazing musicians? No again. Do they embody what once made metal great and possess the enthusiasm necessary to make it great once again? Hell yes!!! Given time, their musical progression will come. For now, I'm just going to enjoy Sacred Steel's nostalgic trip back to the glory days of metal. And what glorious days they were!
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